Preparation: Obtain copies of the Friend magazine articles mentioned or make copies of the synopses below. Gather six simple visual aids: a Book of Mormon; a basketball; a picture of a piano; a picture of a train; a picture of an Olympic runner; a picture of a child praying.
Presentation: Tell the children they are going to help each other learn about things the General Authorities have taught us. Divide the children into groups. Make sure a teacher or other leader is in each group. Give the groups a visual aid and the accompanying Friend magazine article. Give them a few minutes to read the story and decide how to teach it to the other children.
Let each group present the information from their article.
1. "The Promises of a Prophet" by Elder Octaviano Tenorio, Friend, Apr 2009, 8-9. (Book of Mormon) In the April 1986 general conference, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) promised that if families would read the scriptures together regularly, the Spirit would fill their homes.
My dear wife and I decided to follow that counsel. We set a goal to read a chapter a day from the Book of Mormon with our three children--Jorge, 10; Susi, 9; and Luis, 3. We read every day, each of us reading one verse at a time. Even though Luis could not yet read, he wanted to participate. He sat on my lap, facing me, with the Book of Mormon between us. When it was my turn to read, we both followed my finger as I pointed to each word, and Luis repeated out loud every word I read while he looked at those words upside down.
Just before he turned five years old, Luis asked, "When is it my turn to read?"
We explained that when he was older, he would go to school and learn to read.
He responded, "I already know how to read!"
Astonished, I handed him a Book of Mormon. He opened the book upside down and began to read perfectly. He had learned to read by following along in the Book of Mormon!
I invite you to read the scriptures every day. If possible, read them with your family.
2. "Two Secrets to Happiness," by Elder Larry W. Gibbons, Friend, Feb 2009, 8-9. (Basketball) Another way to be happy is to learn self-control. When I was younger, I loved to play basketball. But I did not have good sportsmanship. Winning was everything to me. Whenever someone fouled me, I would get angry.
Then I learned that basketball is only a game. I decided to change. One day, someone elbowed me in the chest on purpose. He pushed me hard. In the past, I would have gotten angry, but this time I walked away without saying anything. I had the best feeling. I knew that I had learned to control myself. It felt better than winning!
Be a good sport, and learn self-control. As you do, you will be happier.
3. "Playing the Hymns," by Elder Lowell M. Snow, Friend, May 2009, 8-9. (Piano) When I was nine years old, my mother announced that she wanted me to learn to play the piano. I thought there were better things for a nine-year-old boy to do, like riding my horse or roaming the hills behind our home. But I did not want to disappoint my mother, so I agreed to take piano lessons.
Every week my piano teacher gave me a new song to learn. I didn't like to practice, but every day Mother set the timer to make sure I practiced the right amount of time. After a few months, my mother suggested that I learn to play some of the Church hymns. I agreed, and together we chose a hymn and I practiced playing it before my lesson. After that, my piano teacher assigned a new hymn for me to learn every week, along with the other music I practiced.
By the time I turned 12 years old, I could play most of the familiar hymns in the hymnbook.
When I was ordained a deacon, the bishop taught me about the priesthood and that one of the things a deacon did was serve others. The bishop knew I had learned to play the hymns, so he called me to be a pianist during some of our church meetings. I enjoyed playing the hymns during our meetings. It made me feel that I could make a contribution to our worship services. Even as a young boy, I felt like an important part of the Church because I knew our ward needed me.
I will always be grateful to my mother for encouraging me and helping me learn to play the hymns. The sacred music would speak to my mind and my heart, and that the words and music would become familiar friends to bless me throughout my life.
4. "Courage to Live the Gospel," by Elder Erich W. Kopischke, Friend, Mar 2009, 8-9. (Train) My father, Kurt, was a young boy in Poland during World War II. The gospel of Jesus Christ helped them feel brave through difficult times.
[As he got older] My father was very bright, and he wanted to study at a university. At that time the government where he lived chose who could attend universities and who could not. The government did not want people to believe in God. Dad was told that he could attend the university only if he would stop belonging to the Church and talking about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
My father knew he could not give up his faith. Instead, he and my mother, Helga, decided to leave their home. They boarded a train for West Germany, praying that they would be allowed to enter that country. At the border the police officers checking the trains did not check the compartment where my parents were riding. So they were able to begin a new life in a country where they could worship God. Two months later I was born.
Sometimes [others] may want you to do things you know are not right. Never forget your promise to live Heavenly Father's standards. Your courage to do what is right will make a difference!
5. "Strength to Follow the Lord," by Elder Claudio D. Zivic, Friend, Jun 2009, 8-9. (Olympic Runner) Running was one of my favorite activities when I was young. I was on the track and field team, and my specialty was the 800-meter dash. That meant I ran two laps around the track.
My dream was to be in the Olympics. My trainer had been an Olympic athlete. He thought I was talented enough to go to the Olympics if I practiced hard.
I practiced a lot and ran in many races. When I was 15, I was the second-place champion for my category in the whole country of Argentina. I hoped that if I continued working, perhaps I could go to the Olympics.
But there was a problem. Often our races were on Sunday. Soon I realized that I could not continue competing. So I chose to stop running.
The choice was hard. I had to give up my dream of being in the Olympics. My trainer didn't understand why I stopped. But I knew I had made a good decision. Even though sports are a good thing, choosing to follow the Lord and His Church is better.
Never be afraid to tell people what you believe in and what your standards are. You don't need to hide who you are. I know the Lord will bless you when you are courageous enough to follow Him.
6. "Praying and Singing to Heavenly Father," by Elder Michael John U. Teh, Friend, Jul 2009, 8-9. (Praying) When I was a little boy, I used to lose things. I would look all around, but I couldn’t find them. After going through the house two or three times without finding anything, I would pray to Heavenly Father to help me. When I started looking again, I would find what I was missing. That happened to me several times as a child. Those times helped me learn to trust that Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers.
When I was older, my testimony was strengthened as Heavenly Father answered my prayers. Heavenly Father never fails you.
I know I'm a child of God. I've always known it. Even when I make mistakes, He is loving and generous to me. He pours out blessings upon you. There's no doubt about it. He knows me. He loves me. I am His son.
Like me, you are a child of our Father in Heaven. He's always there. He loves you.
After each group has presented their article, explain that the General Authorities of the Church have wonderful messages for us. Remind the children that they can find these messages in the Friend magazine as well as hear them at General Conference. Bear your testimony of these leaders and their messages.